France eyes the El Dorado from its seabed

INVESTIGATION – Better explore the seas to perhaps one day exploit their riches. The Head of State has set this objective as part of his France 2030 investment plan. The collection of strategic metals in deep waters promises to be complex.

Are there treasures waiting for us under the sea? Emmanuel Macron is convinced of this. He explored “deep seabed, an extraordinary lever for understanding living things, access to certain rare metals, innovation», One of the ten objectives of the France 2030 plan presented on 12 October.

France is both the second largest maritime power in the world and one of the twenty-two countries with an international seabed exploration contract. This universe whets appetites. Certain depths, often between 3 and 6 km below the surface of the oceans, are full of polymetallic nodules, concretions the size of a fist or a cannonball placed on the seabed. These nodules, very present in the Pacific, in the immense Clarion-Clipperton zone which extends over 4.5 million km2 between Hawaii and Mexico, are rich in cobalt, copper, manganese and even nickel.

Hydrothermal vents or cobalt-rich crusts are also found in the deep sea.

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